I move through a lot of ChromeOS hardware: that’s pretty clear. Depending on the time of year, I’m signed in and using a new Chromebook every few weeks, and as great as that is for someone like me who loves playing around with new stuff all the time, there’s also something to be said for the items on my desk and in my bag that don’t change very often. A solid mouse, monitor and USB C dock are all part of that more-grounded setup that I rely on every day, and the latest Travel Dock from OWC has become a permanent part of my day-in-day-out setup. Let’s check it out and see why.
Non-revolving desk items
As cool as getting my hands on the latest, greatest thing is, I have to acknowledge the fact that I also enjoy finding tech gadgets that stand the test of time, too. For example, I’ve had the same ultrawide monitor on my desk for years at this point. It’s a known entity that delivers where I need it: it’s bright, it’s large enough for lots of windows, the colors are on-point, and the resolution is sharp without adding a bunch of unnecessary pixels. I plug in Chromebook after Chromebook to it, never really worrying much about it not working; there’s nothing really making me yearn to upgrade.
Then there’s my trusty Logitech M355 mouse. I’ve carried it around since it came out and about 3 months ago, it became my daily driver on the desk. It does all I ask from it: it’s portable, and for the way I hold a mouse, it’s super comfy to use. Again, I’m not looking to replace it all the time with a newer, better version. It does what I need it to, it is reliable, and it is a nice constant in my workflow.
A solid USB Type-C dock is a necessity
A good USB Type C dock should be the same. I used a small Samsung dock for years that was given to me at the debut of the Samsung Chromebook Pro in New York in a swag bag. It worked, it was out of the way, and once I learned I could rely on it, it became a permanent fixture on the desk.
After about 4 years of faithful service, it started having issues pretty regularly, and I had to start trying out other options. I went through some of the random ones we had here in the office and there were issues with all of them: screen flickers, charging problems, not enough ports, too many ports, strange alignments – you name it. I was so frustrated that I even tried forcing my old Samsung to work for just a bit longer to hold me over until I found a dock I could rely on again. After a few more attempts, I realized it was surely dead.
OWC’s Travel Dock E delivers
Then came the OWC Travel Dock. Well, more specifically, the latest version of this dock. You see, I’ve tried the 1st and 2nd incarnations of this device and wasn’t always pleased with the results. Things worked most of the time, but I had issues with both of the older models when used on a more-consistent, daily basis. I really didn’t expect much better this time around, but OWC sent us one over and I thought I’d give it a go since I was on the hunt for a new dock. And I’ve not been disappointed.
As the name implies, this is a travel-sized dock and is small enough to drop in a bag. For me, it has been my desktop solution as well and most days it stays put on the desk. There’s a single USB C plug that goes to the Chromebook, and – like we see with most docks at this point – everything else extends from the dock body.
Those connections include two USB 3.2 Type A ports, an ethernet port, a full-size SD card slot, an HDMI output, and a USB Type C power passthrough port. For my setup, this means my Logitech dongle, HDMI output to the monitor I mentioned earlier, and a 65W charger are all plugged into the Travel Dock at all times. I simply need to plug in my single USB Type C cable to whatever Chromebook I’m currently using to be up and running with an extended display, fast charging and instant connection to my Logitech mouse.
As a big bonus, the port layout is right this time around, and that matters a lot. Many docks – including OWC’s previous two Travel Docks – have their ports arranged on all sides of the device and not much thought is given to the layout. This latest Travel Dock gets the placements just right, however, putting the power and HDMI on the back of the dock so that things align nicely and aren’t all twisted up when you try to get connected.
If I had a gripe, it would be the length of the main USB Type C connector: it’s just too short. But the feet on the bottom of the dock are nice and grippy, so even having the cable snake in an S-shape from the dock to the Chromebook doesn’t get my setup all mangled as things generally tend to stay in place. And the shortness of the cable allows it to fold up into the bottom of the body for easy storage when not in use.
My connections with this dock have been literally perfect and I’ve yet to have a single instance where any Chromebook I’ve tested had issues connecting to all my stuff. This dock is rock-solid, reliable and just does what you expect: every single time.
That’s what I’m after in accessories like this. I don’t need something flashy or mind-blowing: I just need it to work and work every time I ask it to. The OWC Travel Dock does just that, gives me the extra ports I need, stays small and out of the way, and is even built to be thrown in my bag to take with me when needed. I’ve been on the lookout for just this sort of dock, and I think I’ve found my new desk mate in this one. At $65, you can’t beat it, and I have no problem recommending it to anyone on the lookout for a solid USB Type C dock option for the desk or for the road.